Anticipating the needs of justice-involved women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV).

Deb O'Kane, Andrew Day, Adam Gerace, Candice Oster, Sharon Casey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Background: Research reports a large percentage of female prisoners are subject to physical and sexual violence from their partners prior to incarceration but return to the same relationships on their release into the community. At present, little is known about the experiences and needs of women prisoners and the types of services available to maintain their safety post‐release. The help‐seeking behaviours of incarcerated women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and the perspectives of service providers in one Australian jurisdiction were investigated to inform the development of a model specific to the physical and mental health needs of women prisoners.

Aims: To develop understanding of what constrains and enables help seeking in justice‐involved women dealing with IPV; explore their perceptions regarding needs for post‐release mental health and community services; and to examine the experiences of service providers about providing services to justice‐involved women who have experienced IPV.

Methods: Semi‐structured interviews with incarcerated women (n = 22), service providers (n = 12) were conducted. Analysis explored women's perceptions and experiences of accessing support for IPV of both their prior help‐seeking and anticipated future help‐seeking within a help‐seeking and ecological framework.

Results: Individual, relational, social structure and cultural factors were identified as influential in women's help seeking and ability to access services for IPV. Despite the prevalence of abuse, satisfactory support from services was perceived as limited as they rarely provide the type of support required to engage ex‐prisoners.

The challenge of meeting the mental health needs of female prisoners while incarcerated and post release was also identified, particularly when many left feeling insufficiently empowered to independently access help.

Conclusion: Specialist safety services are needed to provide education and information about IPV, to assess the particular risks faced by women in prison, to broker service access with community agencies, and to provide general support and advocacy. A dedicated integrated response to community reintegration would help break the cycle of victimisation and incarceration that is characteristic of the lives of many Australian women.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventMental Health is a Human Right -
Duration: 1 Jan 2018 → …


ConferenceMental Health is a Human Right
Period1/01/18 → …


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